Canada visa rules for air passengers have been changed. The Canadian eTA requirement will soon become mandatory. Here’s what you need to know.
Passengers travelling to Canada by air may be required to make an online application before they’ll be allowed enter the country, under new security rules that are now in force.
The new ‘Electronic Travel Authorization’ (eTA) requirement means Canada visa-exempt foreign nationals arriving by plane into Canada will need to complete an online form and pay CA$7 fee in advance of their flight. The eTA will last for five years, or until the expiration date of the visitor’s passport if this is sooner.
It’s a similar requirement to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Esta) in use by the USA, which became mandatory there in 2009.
Visitors have been able to apply for an eTA since August 1, 2015 on a voluntary basis, to help get familiar with the system. It became mandatory for many air passengers from March 15, 2016.
A leniency period, which was in operation after this date, ended on November 9, 2016.
There are a number of exemptions where an eTA will not be required. These include:
- Visitors arriving by land or sea.
- Those with permanent residency – however, they will need to travel with their permanent resident card.
- Citizens of the USA.
- Travellers with a valid Canada visa.
- Passengers on a flight that, because of an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances, makes an unscheduled stop in Canada.
IEC Canada visa participants may be affected
Though IEC participants already have a Canada visa, they may still require an eTA, depending on the date their work permit was issued.
“Foreign workers, including IEC participants, from Canada visa-exempt countries who get their work permit on or after August 1, 2015, will automatically be issued an eTA, along with their permit,” a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) told Moving2Canada.
“However, work permit holders who received their permit on or before July 31, 2015, will need to get an eTA if they plan to leave Canada and return by air, starting March 15, 2016,” the spokesperson added.
The eTA is an additional requirement that air passengers will need to follow – meaning they will still be required to show their passport and follow all existing documents and identification rules.
Currently, only Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, or prepaid Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards are accepted as payment for the CA$7 fee.
The application should only take a few minutes, and an eTA will usually be granted a few minutes later. The CIC advises that last-minute applications, while not recommended, are possible and can be made on any device with an internet connection, including mobile phones.
The federal government is expecting 3.5 million eTA applications each year.
Moving to Canada on a work or travel visa? We highly recommend you keep up-to-date with latest immigration developments – as anyone will tell you, changes happen regularly that can affect your move.
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- To apply for an eTA, and for more information, you can visit the CIC website.